A large section of the M25 in Kent and Surrey will see its hard shoulder converted to become an extra lane, probably in 2014.
The 15 mile stretch, between junctions 5 and 7 (Sevenoaks to the M23 junction) is a congestion blackspot at present, especially where traffic from Kent and the Channel Tunnel on the M20 merges with the M25 towards Gatwick and the west. According to the Highways Agency, there will be a consultation process, and then work will start in around 18 months time.
This stretch will become what is known as a "Managed Motorway", which means variable mandatory speed limits and using the hard shoulder as an extra lane at peak periods. Managed Motorways are seen as a success, following a trial on the M42 outside Birmingham in 2006, which saw accidents reduce by more than fifty per cent over a three-year period.
The move was welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) "FTA feels that the proposal of what is essentially creating an extra lane on the M25 is good news for this particularly busy stretch of motorway. Some may see it as the Highways Agency widening on the cheap, but we feel that this will give motorists and our members extra capacity and will help to keep the motorway moving."